Top Footwear News Cover Story Moments of 2020

Although 2020 was full of obstacles and challenges like no other, Footwear News managed to produce a handful of star-powered covers.

Spanning from Cardi B to Sarah Jessica Parker, FN’s 2020 covers brought forth some of the most exciting and memorable moments in the history of the magazine. Despite social distancing measures and COVID-19, the team conceptualized and produced a number of iconic covers, including a photoshoot with six-year-old fashion influencer, ZaZa.

Below, take a look at the top Footwear News cover story moments of 2020.

Swae Lee and Giuseppe Zanotti

To kick off the collab between the shoe designer and the rap star in February, Footwear News went to Saks Fifth Avenue in Miami to do a cover shoot and interview with the two notables. Both Swae Lee and Giuseppe Zanotti had a lot to say about the exciting collaboration, sold exclusively at the department store.

“Even growing up, we used to rap about Giuseppes. Everybody in the hood wanted them,” Swae Lee told FN. “We couldn’t afford it, so you were a real high-end dude if you wore Giuseppes. You were going to make a lot of noise and turn heads if you came through wearing them.”

Swae Lee, Giuseppe Zanotti
Swae Lee and Giuseppe Zanotti on the cover of FN.
CREDIT: Mary Beth Koeth

Prior to working with the Missippi-born rapper, Zanotti observed Swae’s style from afar.

“I thought, ‘Why is this guy so elegant?’ With dressy shoes and jackets. It’s crazy. And his hair and tattoos. He’s a modern artist.” Zanotti continued, “Swae is young. He’s the new generation. He has something different than others. It’s crazy in a good way. Sometimes absolutely opposites work.”

The collaboration retailed from $1,550 for boots to $1,695 for loafers and $995 to $1,125 for the low- and high-top Blabber sneakers.


For Footwear News’ July cover, we profiled ZaZa, aka @redcarpetgirlz on Instagram. The now six-year-old fashion influencer is on her way to becoming a megastar, already winning fans over on her social media channels thanks to her fiery spirit, fashion choices and music videos laced with energy.

Throughout the issue, ZaZa and her younger sister, Simmy, were dressed in some of fashion’s hottest brands including luxury ready-to-wear and footwear from Versace and Balmain. Household favorites such as Nike and Guess also made an appearance in the editorial spread, as well.

ZaZa, Footwear news cover, ZaZa x FN
ZaZa for FN.
CREDIT: Destiny Robb

“She has a full scope of vision of what she thinks things should look like. When she’s older, she’s going to be so used to being confident in her words,” said ZaZa’s father, co-collaborator and manager, Nemo Achida, who is also a songwriter and producer, with a background in working with stars such as Jack Harlow and SZA. “I just want her to be successful in everything she wants to achieve.”

Most recently, ZaZa starred in a footwear campaign with L.O.L. Surprise! and Puma.

“So exciting. I love Pumpa and L.O.L. Surprise! The photos [from the campaign] look so fire, too,” ZaZa told FN.

Sarah Jessica Parker

For September, Sarah Jessica Parker graced Footwear News’ cover with a message of hope and an argument for why we should all be wearing heels.

“Heels still rule,” Parker said during her September cover shoot at her midtown Manhattan boutique. “I think part of it is planning for a future, which I think we’re all hoping for, which is the opportunity for us to be together again with one another, have a reason to dress up or feel like you’re allowing yourself something special.”

sarah jessica parker, fn cover, sjp x FN
Sarah Jessica Parker for FN.
CREDIT: Flo Ngala

Throughout the pandemic, the “Sex and the City” star kept busy with her New York City boutiques and dress in style, even pairing her sweat pants with high heels from her very own collection.

P.J. Tucker

Shot before the COVID-19 pandemic in January, Footwear News’ decided to release the highly-anticipated cover and profile on NBA star P.J. Tucker in August. The league’s most notable sneakerhead showed off some of his expansive collection for the cover shoot.

“Last time I counted I had over 4,000 pairs of shoes and I have no idea what my collection is worth,” Tucker said of his collection.

pj tucker, fn cover, pj tucker x fn
P.J. Tucker for FN.
CREDIT: Andy Batt

During the interview, the Nike athlete showed off several Air Jordans and classics from the Swoosh. Among his collection, the Jordans included a pair of the unreleased Air Jordan 11 “OVO,” an original Air Jordan 1 from 1985 with the original tags and the Eminem x Air Jordan 4 “Encore.”


Cardi B

Another cover that brought star power to the front page of Footwear News this year was the November issue featuring Cardi B. The rap star, who was nominated as FN’s 2020 Style Influencer of the Year, was riding on the coattails of releasing her first-ever sneaker with Reebok.

Cardi B, Footwear News
Cardi B for FN.
CREDIT: Jora Frantzis

“To me, the perfect shoe is style and fashion, you know what I’m saying. I love comfortability but to me, fashion is not always comfortable. My [Reebok] shoe is comfortable but say I want to come out with 7-inch platform sneakers and if it’s fashion, I’m going to put it out, said Cardi B in her interview for the November issue for Footwear News.

Christian Louboutin notably presented the “WAP” rapper’s award during the 34th annual Footwear News Achievement Awards which was virtual this year.

Aurora James

It was a big year for Aurora James, the designer of Brother Vellies and founder of The 15 Percent Pledge. That’s why the Toronto-born business mogul was named Footwear News’ Person of the Year for 2020.

Aurora James, FN Achievement Awards 2020
Aurora James for FN.
CREDIT: Sage East

“As a Black woman living in America in 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and many other people’s senseless murders, that was what I needed in order to feel like corporations were supporting Black people,” she explained on creating her nonprofit during her cover shoot with FN. “So I wanted to make a clear ask and I wanted to give people the opportunity to step up and meet me where I am or to quite clearly disappoint me.”

The designer and social justice philanthropist posed on the cover of FN’s Footwear News Achievement Awards issue clad in American flag boots made by her very own label, Brother Vellies.

“I think it’s an even bolder statement,” she said of the boots during her December cover shoot. “I don’t have to embrace this country as my own. I’m not originally from here. But I do feel, because I have created my business here, and in many ways have come of age here, that I have a responsibility also to this country. I genuinely love America. I love Canada, too. They’re very different, even though we compare the two so much. I want to see it do really well and I think that that also means I have to be willing to put in that work. And I think I am.”

Salehe Bembury

Last but certainly not least, Salehe Bembury, Footwear News’ 2020 Designer of the Year, also posed for our December FNAA cover.

The Versace VP of sneakers and of men’s footwear brought the Italian brand to the forefront of the fashion sneaker scene. Bembury has continued his momentum with releases such as his 2002R sneaker with New Balance and sneaker releases with Anta.

salehe bembury, fn cover, salehe x fn
Salehe Bembury for FN.
CREDIT: Jonathan Mannion

Prior to joining Versace in 2017, Bembury worked for footwear industry heavyweights such as Yeezy, Greats, Cole Haan and others.

“I just come from being a fan of sneakers. I remember all those moments when I opened boxes, opened sneakers, waited in line, so I guess I’m trying to re-create that emotion, re-create that nostalgia,” Bembury said in the video in which he accepts his Footwear News Achievement Award from Jaden Smith.

Most recently, Bembury announced that he is leaving Versace in 2021 to work on a brand of his own, garnering an air of excitement in the footwear industry for the new year ahead.

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